The Life of Samson
or Doing It All Wrong and Still Winning
The Look of Love
Samson went down to Timnah and saw there a young Philistine woman. When he returned, he said to his father and mother, “I have seen a Philistine woman in Timnah; now get her for me as my wife. 3 His father and mother replied, “Isn’t there an acceptable woman among your relatives or among all our people? Must you go to the uncircumcised Philistines to get a wife?” But Samson said to his father, “Get her for me. She’s the right one for me.” 4 (His parents did not know that this was from the Lord, who was seeking an occasion to confront the Philistines; for at that time they were ruling over Israel.)
There is no doubt that Samson was chosen by God. An angel announced his coming conception and told his parents, repeatedly, that he would be a special child, who would free his people from their oppressors. His mother obeyed the instructions she was given and kept herself pure whilst she was pregnant and ensured Samson was set apart for God once he was born.
In today’s passage we see Samson making one of the first decisions of his adult life, and it is easy to imagine how upset and confused his parents would have been. They worked hard to raise him to a Nazirite, as they were commanded, only to have him demand they arrange a marriage with a woman from the enemy camp. No wonder they question him. And yet, if we read on, verse four tells us that this, seemingly rebellious, act actually came from God.
We can carry pictures in our mind of what God’s will for our children, and others we love, should look like, but we shouldn’t let that prevent us from seeing Him at work in their ‘wrong’ choices. Embracing people of other faiths, or lifestyles, drinking and partying, or even moving away, are all choices that may cause us pain, but they may be the very ‘mission fields’ our loved ones are being called to.
Sometimes we can focus so hard on what a Christian life should look like for those we love, that we can miss what God is actually asking them to do. Let’s not be hemmed in by convention, or worry, but rather, let’s be freed by faith to trust God to use those we love, in the way he has planned since before they were born.
Thank you that you love us just as we are, thank you that your plans for us are perfect and not dependant on our understanding. Help us to trust you when it seems the lives of those we love, may be going awry, and help us to find your will even in the strangest of life’s circumstances. We ask this through your precious son, our saviour, Jesus, amen
I did it my way
One day Samson went to Gaza, where he saw a prostitute. He went in to spend the night with her. 2 The people of Gaza were told, “Samson is here!” So they surrounded the place and lay in wait for him all night at the city gate. They made no move during the night, saying, “At dawn we’ll kill him.”
One of my favourite TV shows is The Middle, it is the everyday story of a working-class Mum and Dad and their three children. This is no ‘Disney’ family though, their youngest is very socially awkward, their middle child is exhausting in her enthusiasm for everything and their eldest, Axl, is an obnoxious teenager, gifted at football, who wanders round in his boxer shorts, with barely a civil word to say to anyone, demanding everything as his right. He honestly believes the world revolves around him and sees any consequences to his actions as completely unfair.
When I read the story of Samson I am reminded of Axl, here is a man who was raised his whole life to believe he was special, God’s chosen man, a golden child, if you will, who then seems to spend his adult life pursuing his own pleasures with no thought of consequences, and no evidence he ever seeks God’s will before acting.
And yet, God’s will for his life is worked out anyway.
God has a perfect plan for our lives, just as he did for Samson’s, but gives us the awesome gift of free will, so we can choose whether to follow that perfect plan or not. God’s plan for Samson’s life was to use him to deliver Israel from the Philistines, and, ultimately, that plan was fulfilled, but I can’t help but wonder, as I read Samson’s story, what blessings Samson missed by not seeking God’s will in his decision making.
Thank you for the amazing gift of free will that you have entrusted to us. Thank you, Father, that you always provide a way to help us out of the mess our bad choices can put us into. Help us to seek your will, especially when we are tempted, so that our will and yours might work together and our lives run closer to your perfect plan. Through Jesus’ precious blood we ask this.
Why, why, why...
Sometime later, he fell in love with a woman in the Valley of Sorek whose name was Delilah. The rulers of the Philistines went to her and said, “See if you can lure him into showing you the secret of his great strength and how we can overpower him, so we may tie him up and subdue him. Each one of us will give you eleven hundred shekels of silver.”
Looking at the story of Samson’s adult life, it is clear to see he has a great weakness that causes him no end of trouble. He is, in short, a sucker for a good-looking woman. It is the first thing we read about his adult life, and his story is full of him choosing the wrong women and being hurt by that choice. In fact, his weakness is so well known that his enemies try to use it against him, and, reading on, it would be easy to think they succeeded.
We, too, have an enemy who knows our weaknesses, sometimes better than we do ourselves, and who also plots to use those weaknesses to trip us up. Isn’t it comforting, then, that it is Samson’s very weakness that God uses to fulfil His ultimate purpose in Samson’s life - to deliver Israel from the Philistines. Whilst I pray that Samson’s walk would not be our walk, I am grateful to know that no plan of our enemy could ever stop God’s plan for our lives, regardless of how it looks to the outside world.
Thank you that no part of our being is hidden from you, thank you that you know both our strengths and our weaknesses. Thank you that you help us to strive to overcome our weaknesses, and that you use us even when we fail. Help us to be more self-aware, and more able to hear your voice so that our weaknesses will not lead us down the self-destructive roads they took Samson to. We ask this through your son, our Saviour, Jesus, Christ.
Me, Myself, and I
Judges 16: 28-30
Then Samson prayed to the Lord, “Sovereign Lord, remember me. Please, God, strengthen me just once more, and let me with one blow get revenge on the Philistines for my two eyes.” Then Samson reached toward the two central pillars on which the temple stood. Bracing himself against them, his right hand on the one and his left hand on the other, Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines!” Then he pushed with all his might, and down came the temple on the rulers and all the people in it. Thus he killed many more when he died than while he lived.
We can often question our motivation, and that of others, when we pray. We are taught that God will give us anything, in His will, if we join together to pray for it, but this teaching can bring its own, paralysing fears. What if we are not praying in God’s will? Do we need to discern God’s will before we can pray? What if we get it wrong, will it prevent God’s will being done?
From before his birth Samson was proclaimed by God to be a Nazirite, set apart to do a great service for God. He was to abstain from alcohol, never cut his hair and keep himself away from dead bodies; yet through-out his adult life we see Samson’s disregard for these rules (it’s pretty hard to keep away from dead bodies when you are the one creating them). We also don’t see Samson spending much time asking God for guidance, in fact the only times we really see Samson talk to God is when he wants something. Even in the passage above, at the very end of Samson’s life, he isn’t asking God to use him to free Israel from the Philistines, he is asking for help to get revenge on them for making him blind. Yet the Bible records, “Thus he killed many more when he died than while he lived.” Interesting word, ‘thus’, it means ‘and so it was’.
Today we have seen that Samson, a man mightily used by God, ignores all the worries and questions we often have, and prays in an entirely selfish way, yet his prayer brings about God’s will. Perhaps we should just pray and trust that God will bring about His purpose through our prayers.
Dear Sovereign Lord
Thank you that you have a purpose and a plan for each one of us, thank you that nothing we can do can stop you using us for that purpose. Free us from trepidation and anxiety in our conversations with you and help us to pray with confidence that your will be done. Through the blood of your precious son we pray.
You Take The High Road, and I’ll Take The Low Road
A certain man of Zorah, named Manoah, from the clan of the Danites, had a wife who was childless, unable to give birth. The angel of the Lord appeared to her and said, “You are barren and childless, but you are going to become pregnant and give birth to a son.
The beginning of Samson’s story has so many parallels with other great figures in the Bible. Isaac, John, and of course, Jesus all have conceptions foretold by angels, all have parents who know they are marked out for a special purpose by God, and yet their life stories could not be more different. This final visit to Samson is a purely hypothetical one, and no conclusion can be reached, but, in studying the life of Samson, one question keeps coming to mind again and again. How much more could God have done through Samson if Samson had been as attentive to God’s voice as Isaac, John and Jesus?
When I first became a Christian I would hear God asking me to do tiny things for him, go and say hello to a certain person, offer to share my food with another, pray for someone at Church, and for the longest time fear of their reaction and my ineptitude prevented me from being obedient. Eventually though, my desire to do God’s will won out over my shyness, God asked me to give someone something and, heart in mouth, I actually went over to them and did it. What I discovered, of course, is that it was never those God was asking me to help who missed out on the blessing, it was me. The faith-building joy of doing something God had asked me to, and hearing how it was exactly what that person needed right then, was absolutely priceless and helped me to realise exactly what I had been missing out on all along.
During these devotions I have tried to pick out of the rubble of Samson’s life some positive ways in which God salvaged His original purpose. Just imagine what Samson’s story would have been like if he had lived his whole live as the Nazirite God intended him to be.
Dear Heavenly Father
Help us to use the story of Samson to spur us on to living the life you have planned for us. Let us seek your will first and foremost in our lives and never cease to worship you with all that we do and say. With gratitude for your gift of grace, given through our Lord, Jesus, we ask these things.